I’m a creative writing tutor as well as a writer and find that similar questions crop up over and over. So it seems sensible to include some in my blog occasionally.
Q If you don’t want to write for weekly magazines and haven’t got the ‘legs’ to write a novel – what other markets are there?
A Have you looked at the small press market?
The small press is made up of subscription-only magazines with a modest circulation. Generally, they are A5 in size, with few illustrations. They pay nothing or little but competition to appear is still fierce and some good work appears. The tone is generally more literary or experimental than the weekly newsstand magazines and so the small press is a great arena for writers to flex their writing muscles. Look for QWF, The Yellow Room, Scribble etc.
There are also literary magazines with higher profile and circulation than the small press mags. I’m afraid I have no experience of their payment rates. Look out for The London Review, Granta, Slightly Foxed etc. You will need to do some research into the market and the Internet makes this easier than once was. Go to sites such as www.duotrope.com for comprehensive market listings. Take care to distinguish UK from US. But your search engine will be your friend here and you’ll find there are endless sites about writing and markets.
Competitions are another outlet for short stories and there are lots of them. You’ll find loads of information on them in Writers’ Forum, Writers’ News, Writing Magazine, The New Writer. Some of these are subscription magazines (quite reasonably priced), but Writing and Writers’ Forum are available on the shelves at W H Smith. Or surf the Internet for links from reputable sites such as http://www.youwriteon.com.
Whether you aim for magazines or competitions, pick one that’s suitable for your output. You need to send your best work and present it well. In the same way that you’re likely to polish your shoes, wash your hair and wear the correct clothes to a job interview, a manuscript should look its best when you send it to an editor or judge.